Research Projects and Institutes  The National Science Foundation (NSF) is our funding organization. NSF has a Smart and Connected Communities division, under which our program falls. The National Science Foundation funds many projects and is a well-regarded research organization, primarily focusing on science and engineering that benefits the United States. About 25% of federal research funding comes from NSF. Much of this project’s data is from the Iowa Small Towns Project. It has been active since 1994, surveying residents in 99 Iowan towns. Our project’s Dr. David Peters is affiliated with the Iowa Small Towns Project. This site also leads to many publications that are linked to the data used for this project. The Iowa Government Finance Initiative uses local government data to understand local financial health. Their research is disseminated through publications, which can be found on this site, as well as training and workshops for local officials. Dr. Biswa Das, a member of our team, is affiliated with this initiative. The Iowa Farm and Rural Life poll has been active since 1982 through Iowa State University’s department of Rural Sociology. This survey examines impacts of rural policy and changes in agriculture and rural communities. It is distributed yearly, to a small sample of Iowan farmers, in order to track change over time. The Department of Public Transformation is an initiative, led by artists, designed to increase community connection, engagement, and participation in rural areas. Focusing on local artists and communities, the initiative is committed to keeping local communities central to their projects. Their goal is to assist rural communities in embracing local artists and projects as vital to their well-being. The Rural Policy Research Institute examines policy’s impact in rural America. RUPRI centers its mission around arts and community, health, cultural wealth, local and state policy, and population and place. This group performs research to shed light on challenges and opportunities that rural communities have. Rural Prosperity Nebraska is a project out of University of Nebraska. This project focuses on rural communities in Nebraska and what it takes for these communities to thrive. By partnering with extension faculty from University of Nebraska and rural Nebraskan communities, the project develops resources and research to assist rural communities’ efforts to succeed. The University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies is a research and resource center that looks at social, economic, and resource challenges in rural areas. It offers research assistance to community members, business leaders, and local governments. The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs performs research, teaching, and outreach for rural Illinois as well as advising rural policy. By focusing on rural development efforts in rural areas, they hope to increase rural quality of life in Illinois. The California Institute for Rural Studies responds to rural challenges in California with research projects aimed at local action. Their specialties include California agricultural roots, farm labor, food systems, and rural health. Georgia College’s Rural Studies Institute, housed in Milledgeville, GA, was launched in 2020. This institute focuses on rural health, education, economic opportunity, and the environment. Since COVID-19, the institute has focused on providing resources on the pandemic for rural areas. The Association of Religion Data Archives have many data sets that look at church attendance and affiliation in the United States. Their data is available by county, state, and region.

International Resources ReLocal is an organization that operates within the European Union to address inequalities between different spaces within the EU. ReLocal focuses on expanding knowledge of spatial inequalities in the EU. It also examines policies that might have an impact on territories’ socio-economic equality. European Shrinking Rural Areas Challenges, Actions and Perspectives for Territorial Governance (ESCAPE) is a project that focuses on rural shrinkage in the European Union. It strives to map and understand population changes, examine differences between territories, and develop policies or strategies to understand these changes. This project focuses on urban centers in the European Union that are shrinking in population. Specifically, it examines governance and policy related to shrinkage. While discussing smart shrinkage, this project focuses on predicting shrinkage, and the challenges cities face. This smart shrinkage project is ongoing in Finland by the University of Eastern Finland’s Spatia – Center for Regional Research. This project attempts to determine why only certain urban centers grow while the majority shrink. The Thunen Institute in Germany has a Rural Studies division. This center focuses on the sustainability of urban areas with the assumption that regions in Germany will continue to change. Much like other projects on this list, they desire to make recommendations to German policymakers. 

Outreach and Non-Profit Programs The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) is housed at Purdue University and is a collaborator on this project. This organization focuses on extension programs and research projects in rural communities, businesses, and households. The NCRCRD website includes data resources and publication lists surrounding rural communities.  The Iowa League of Cities is our project partner. The League works with more than 870 cities in Iowa. They provide training, advocacy, and other resources to the member cities. The League also advocates for and communicates on behalf of the cities in Iowa, to create a unified approach. Their website is full of resources for individuals interested in Iowa towns, large and small. The Iowa State University’s extension office of Community and Economic Development is a hub for publication and resources from Iowa State University extension faculty focusing on communities. One of our project members, Jennifer Drinkwater, is the CED’s Community Arts Specialist. This link leads you to Michigan State University’s extension page on community. This segment of MSU extension focuses on linking Michigan communities with tools needed to improve their quality of life. The Rural America Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2021 to assist rural entrepreneurs in impacting their local communities. It offers events, some of which are open to the public. Membership is available for rural entrepreneurs as well, in order to encourage networking and collaborations. The Rural Assembly is an organization for rural leaders. This national organization hosts a free yearly conference, called Rural Assembly Everywhere, for anyone interested in rural leadership or rural issues generally. Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) is an international organization for local government members of all levels. ELGL creates resources designed to connect local governments and engage leaders.  

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number #1952007. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.